Tag Archives: metal

Kuma’s Secretly Hearts Emo

I’d heard of Kuma’s Corner for months and have craved their metal-themed hamburgers and pretzel buns for many a month I’ve lived in Chicago. Tonight, I set out for the famous metal bar and was able to snatch a spot before the looming crowd grew larger than the small room had space for. And I noticed something so curious that the New York Times picked up on before I was able to get to my WordPress:

I DON’T know what I was expecting — guns? outlaw bikers? — but the restaurant, with its high ceilings and a pleasing corner location, didn’t end up all that threatening. Sure, there were drawings of half-naked female vampires on the walls, a scrawl reading “Die Emo Die” above the bar, and the incessant and propulsive fluttering of double-kick bass drums chugging under growled vocals on the sound system all night, but my girlfriend’s parents — not the target demographic, one assumes — described it afterward as “a hoot.”

Yep. “Die Emo Die.” The Times piece actually makes it a bit more prevalent than the three words actually are. They’re scrawled in chalk, are a bit small and sit atop a gigantic picture of a bear. And with all the other chalk descriptions (what charity they’re giving money to this month, the burger of the month), t-shirts and random ephemera on the wall, it isn’t terribly noticeable. I guess that is unless you’re me and it sticks out almost immediately. It also helps that I sat at that part of the bar directly facing those three words.

And yet, just after sitting down something curious blasted through the bar’s speakers. At The Drive In’s “One Armed Scissor.” At The Drive In, a band that is by any other means, emo. Sure, it’s hard as hell, but it’s emo nonetheless. So, I smiled to myself, made note to my roommate who joined me in the metal meal quest and awaited the arrival of my burger (the “Melvins” burger.)

And man was it delicious. The atmosphere there was great, and is certainly another fond reminder of some great metal acts that exist. It’s just another great place that only seems to exist so perfectly in a place like Chicago.

When Emo Went to Egypt Land

Lookout Russia and Mexico, there’s another country that’s got emo in the public’s depress-ed eye. Egypt was recently over-run with anti-emo fervor, and as The Guardian‘s Jack Shenker tells it, the authorities and media took things way out of proportion. Go figure.

As Shenker tells it, Cairo recently saw a bloom of graffiti in the streets. And even while spray-painted scrawlings are heralded as street art in many places, it’s still seen as a nuisance. According to Shenker, the “authorities did what any sensible, level-headed authority would do – they panicked, called in state security agents, and began rounding up suspects.” And all over this:

I’d seen these photos on a blog (perhaps not the one I’ve linked to, but one similar in that I couldn’t understand what it said and it contained many similar photos) a few weeks ago, but considering I don’t know Arabic, I merely continued to bumble about the Internet, unbeknownst the connection to the city’s emo scene.

But, it seems as though the entire scene was unrelated to the country’s emo community. As the Egyptian Chronicles blog noted about the coverage of the “emo graffiti” in Youm 7:

Yesterday Monday at 11 :08 Am the newspaper published an exclusive news :The Egyptian Emos were behind the drawings downtown and that this drawing “which depicts a man with a broom , of course I did not know that”means unlimited feelings !!!!!!!!!!
According to a member from Egypt’s underground dangerous Emo group it is a message to the state security that they are not affected by these arrests that followed “Al-Hakika show” and these drawings mean that the group is too big that we think. This news was published by Ahmed Mustafa who seems to know an insider in the Emos !!
I did not believe the story and I wanted to comment on it as soon as I read it but I got engaged in Sham El-Nassim. I felt that it was an attempt by the interior ministry to hunt down the Emos again. 
Thank goodness that I waited because in 15:47 PM Youm 7 published another news , this time by Gamal Al-Shanawy , the news is saying that the interior ministry succeeded in arresting those who drew those drawings and guess what they are not Emos and may be they have not heard about them in their entire life !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They are two artists from the town house gallery  were trying to promote a new logo they invented to become the new logo of the state cleanliness campaign !!  A car technician was helping them by holding their tools. 
Now what bring the Emos in to the issue in the first place ?? Is not this a fabrication !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
I do not know why we do not put the Emos phenomena in its right size. 

In which case, it seems as if all of this was a big misunderstanding, but at the expense of the country’s emo followers. It certainly isn’t the first time an underground culture has been misinterpreted by the Egyptian government. As Mark Levine notes in Heavy Metal Islam‘s chapter on Egypt, the city’s metal scene was under siege by authorities in the 90s under suspect of Satanism. Of course, these calls for concern were untrue, but it certainly set the city’s scene back.

The same looks to be said of emo, ever since there was a program on Dream TV back in March “exploring” the culture. Though according to Shenker, it wasn’t much of an expose as it was a beating ground:The “backlash” against emo-culture actually began before the street-art controversy, when the host of El-Hakika (The Truth), a top-rated talk-show on Dream TV, devoted an entire episode back in March to the alarming phenomenon of emos in Egypt. In it he grilled a number of self-identified emos, including one gutsy student named only as Sherif who persistently interrupted the presenter and callers to insist that the emos were not an organised movement and were not all gay. “The idea is that there is nothing wrong with admitting that you are emotional,” he said defensively. The host, Wael El-Ibrashi, disagreed. “Look, no one can tell you how to wear your hair,” the presenter conceded generously, “But when that becomes a group philosophy, it’s worrying.”

Considering the negative approach to emo taken by the program, it’s not unthinkable to see the mainstream cower in fear of a culture they don’t quite understand. After all, the same thing happened in Mexico after emo was dissed on a popular music TV program, and that was just last year. More pieces continue to crop up railing against emo, even though it appears to be just as harmless as any other subculture or (dare I say it in the guise of this blog, but it’s still a relevant word) fad. Check out the slightly-racist ramblings in the hilariously-titled “‘Emus’ Terrorize Cairo” piece originally found in Middle East Features:

wear their hair swept forward like Asians…

Granted, that does come from a translation of another website, but the information continues to be distributed as a piece of news instead of observing it under the microscope. And then there are the anti-emo Facebook groups, which doesn’t exactly feature some emo-friendly fare:

Picture 16

True, it is Facebook, and rarely anything of cultural relevance actually is driven by the website except for Facebook itself (how many profile pictures or status updates spurn real-world action?) but the sentiment declared by Bassem displays a strong sense of hated that seems undeserved (though who can say what any “emo” had personally done to him, but I don’t want to make excuses…)

As Shenker wisely notes, it’s the youth of Egypt that ultimately suffer the consequences, having to bear the brunt of a confused society and, in the case of Egypt, police inquisition. None of these are pleasant consequences, and in a country that, according to Shenker, has a large youth unemployment rate, it’s not unthinkable that the Egypt’s youngsters want to find some way to rebel… It’s just a shame that wearing a bit too much eyeliner could land someone in jail.

Cave In Reunion Show

That’s right! The Massachusetts post-hardcore metal maelstrom known as Cave In is doing a reunion show. So far, it looks like it’s just one show, at Great Scott in Boston. Tickets went on sale this morning at 10 am and sold out.

I’m currently trying to grab frontman Steve Brodsky for an interview for Bostonist. I put on a show with Steve and folkie Elijah Wyman last year at Brandeis, and it was quite a combo. Steve’s a wonderful songwriter and an excellent performer, and a nice and friendly guy to boot.

And as for Cave In? I was lucky enough to catch them before their current hiatus a handful of years ago, in Newbury Comics of all places! Though I wasn’t as familiar with their discography as I am now, it proved to be one of the best sets of that summer, and I can still distinctly remember the set being so loud that some of the merch fell down and hit one of the guys (Adam I think) partway through the set. I hope there are a handful of tickets leftover that I can grab!

Hilarious interview from years ago:

PS: Here’s what the band had to say on their myspace, a brief announcement concerning the reunion just two days ago

“Dear friends,


After 3 1/2 long years, Cave In has decided to end its hiatus. Please

join us for an EP release show at Great Scott’s (1222 Commonwealth

Ave., Allston MA) on Sunday, July 19th @ 9PM. Also playing will be our

friends Disappearer and Phantom Glue. Copies of the “Planets Of Old”

limited 12″ (recorded by Adam Taylor, Alex Hartman & Johnny Northrup @

Camp St. Studio) from Hydra Head Records will be available that night.


We hope to see your lovely selves.


Steve, Adam, J.R., Caleb


Man, talk about a viral response – those tickets went quick!

Back to the Metal

Caught a midnight screening of Back to the Future last night at Coolidge Corner and thought of this:

Guess that wouldn’t really have the same effect with Metro Station, now would it…

Don Dial

“I was twelve when that song came out!”

“It’s a free country, you can be any age you want.”

There’s stage banter and then there are the words that spewed out of Damon Che like a volcano. The drummer and last original member of Pittsburgh’s Don Caballero was absolutely trashed when the trio performed at Harper’s Ferry in Allston this past Sunday. Sweating and pummeling behind the drum kit in a button-down shirt and a pair of boxers, Che addressed the crowd in the same way his band’s songs did between the minutes of drunken balladry; relentlessly, maniacally, unconventionally, humorously, and spontaneously. Moreover, it was hard to tell what he would say next or what metal-meets-punk-meets-art-rock lick the band would blast the crowd with.

Don Caballero

Don Caballero

Sure, Che may have seemed like an asshole at the beginning, going on and on about how his band used to fill bigger places in Boston; hell, if a former member of your 15-year old band was pulling in larger crowds after one album with a new group (former Caballero guitarist Ian Williams of Battles), I could see how you’d get pissed off. Even though under different (sober) circumstances Che might have acted differently, it’s hard for me not to recall the time of unconventional concert-going in which Caballero came to life with their twisted take on rock. Back in ’93, Fugazi (as always, the biggest point of influence for the most outstanding, influential, and creative emo acts) were as well known for subverting the normal rock concert atmosphere by addressing the crowd in absurd ways. From hugging and kissing violent concert-goers to bringing the music to a complete halt if violence broke out on the floor to addressing all kinds of anarchic questions and behaviors, there was no arena-rock fourth wall when Fugazi played.



And the same thing happened the other night. Che’s moments of conversation with the audience weren’t epiphanies, but it certainly diverged from the rock ‘n roll attitude that many concerts always seem to hold as a token rule. Caballero were hardly alone as opener’s Ponytail – one of the best live acts out there – made a great ruckus of genre-melding art-punk as singer Molly Siegel constantly drove her body to the edge of the stage while addressing the crowd whenever possible. Musically, Ponytail one-upped Caballero. But phonetically? Well, you really can’t top Che’s question of the second for the audience:

“Would it hurt my career if I were to join the NRA right now?”

Don Caballero – Palm Trees In The Fecking Bahamas (live):

Ponytail – 7 Souls (live):